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Ask A Trooper: What Are the Laws About Talking on a Cellphone While Driving?

Washington State Patrol District 1 spokesperson and recruiter Guy Gill answers your questions about the rules of the road.

Q: What are the laws about talking on a cell phone while driving? And why is it OK for Troopers to talk on their cell phones without a headset, when I can't?

A: The law is, you cannot have a phone up to your ear—it has to be through a speaker or Bluetooth. There are some exceptions to that, however: if you’re hearing impaired, or reporting an emergency. If you're caught talking on your cell phone while driving, it's a primary offense.

If you’re a law enforcement officer on your cell phone, it usually means you’re summoning aide. In the State Patrol, we try to keep that to a minimum. If we’re talking on the phone, it’s a necessary task to perform our job.

It's the same with texting. I don’t do it when I drive, it's illegal.

Distracted driving in general is big cause of collisions. We see collisions when people are doing something inside their vehicle other than focusing on driving--using an iPod or iPad, changing a CD or radio station... eating. Whatever keeps you from doing your task is considered distracted driving and against the law.

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Trooper Guy Gill is the Washington State Patrol recruiter and spokesman for District 1, covering Pierce and Thurston counties. Follow him at @wspd1pio on Twitter. 

What have you always wanted to ask a state patrol officer? Tell us in the comments.

dexterjibs February 14, 2013 at 05:56 AM
Now Federica, why the hateful rhetoric? Hateful rhetoric never fed a starving child. But I know I fed a starving child when I was driving and talking on my cell phone ordering a pizza. And I got home safely, hung up the phone and fed my face too.
Federico Nava February 15, 2013 at 02:20 AM
Dipster, you're truly an artist!
dexterjibs February 15, 2013 at 07:01 AM
Federico, you have a great day! It was fun.
stephanie February 20, 2013 at 10:01 AM
stacia, you stop talking on your cell phone or you get a ticket. try fighting it in court. you will lose if you go in with, "well i see officers talking on their cells while driving all the time." it's not gonna get you out of a ticket. didn't your parents ever tell you "do as I say, not as I do"? same thing. stop taking on your phone while driving bc it's the law.
Owen Applequist February 26, 2013 at 07:53 AM
So if officers are able to use their phone while driving for official business does that mean they have received training or education on how to do so safely?

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